Thursday, December 11, 2008

Survey Results

Recently my District conducted a technology survey targeting the students. The final question was: "What is your best advice to your school for advancing technology in the next 3-4 years?" Of the 992 responses one keeps ringing in my head: "Don't overdo it, because many parents today are still technologically impaired." It's a fact all of us in technology are aware of, but occasionally need a reminder such as this! It's a component of the Digital Divide that is often overlooked. The dreaded generation gap.

I have sat in sessions with affluent parents attending workshops on the "dangers of the internet". Many are agast and agog at what there children are able to find out there in cyberspace. The initial response is generally to want to yank the connection. I must admit that this was my intial responses as well. Blocking and filtering to protect the student from the sewers on the information superhighway. My opinion has changed somewhat. Now I am of the mindset that it is vital that we teach our students to be responsible digital citizens. But how do we do that, if Mom and Dad haven't a clue?

So how do we close the generation gap? It is my humble opinion that it starts with the most basic of communication and observation skills. Ask your child for help! Believe it or not they may have experiences that you don't! Watch what they are doing online. Ask them what interests them. Have them show you how to use the tools that you are paying for!

In a recent post, I mentioned a class that was provided for parents to train and introduce them to school resources. There are often classes at the local high school, community college, library or park district on how to leverage the power of technology. Take advantage of these typically free resources. You can make a difference in your child's life by making a difference in yours! Don't be afraid to try new things. You're likely not going to "break" your computer and if you do your child will likely no how to fix it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shameless Plug

Dateline Friday, 11/28/2008
Tonight I will be hosting another Digital Decompression session. This is a weekly online event for those passionate about technology and education to come and discuss how tech tools are being used in the classroom. The last one failed miserably. But Rome wasn't built in a day, how can an online discussion group? At any rate, if you have a few moments please do stop by at 8:00 pm CDT. To find the discussion simply point your browser to Stickam.com find the Group Chat button and select Debate Rooms. Once there, click on Digital Decompression. Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Elementary Parent University

I can't believe I missed it! My oldest will be in kindergarten next year (how time flies). At any rate I just got home from IETC and my wife says, "I wanted to show you something before I threw it away." The "something" was a flyer from my local school district informing us that they will be hosting a Parent University to familiarize parents with tools the students are already using, including "Study Island, My Access and Custom typing" It's amazing because I just got back from T+L (Tech and Learning in Seattle) a few weeks ago and got my first look at some of these programs on the vendor floor.

So now, I'm excited to see them in action. And providing parents with some hands on experience not only is exciting, it's a key step to bridging the digital divide and catching the digital immigrants up to speed. Additionally, I just got back from IETC in Springfield. And one of the sessions I saw today was by Robert Small from District 211 on bridging the digital divide. And if I'm not mistaken (should probably check my notes) one of the programs he spoke about was exactly this: Bring the parents and the community to the school for training.

So now I'm really excited! Everything seems to be going my way, until I look at the date of the event: November 17th, 2008. That was last Monday. I'm so busy driving the information superhighway, I'm not paying attention to my small little piece of terra firma! Bummer. Time to find the Technology Director at the district and start hoping another date will be offered in the near future.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Death of the Digital Native

I have been thinking a great deal about my recent experience at T+L in Seattle. In Particular I was stuck by a comment made by Tim Tyson: "Being a Digital Native does not equate to digital literacy." Within that same breath, I recall the forcaster, Paul Saffo, guiding a thought process that I don't think reached fruition. Mr. Saffo talked about how the industrial age gave way to the consumer age which gave way to the digital age and the birth of the digital native. And now the digital age is giving way to the "Media Age." All this in the span of one Century!

Let's put some of this in perspective, shall we? Can you believe that Myspace has only been in existance for five years? Has it really only been 5 years since the social revolution that is web 2.0 went supernova? Sure their has been ICQ, Instant Messanger and even online communities brought to you by Compuserve, you remember Compuserve don't you, but the explosion happened in 2003! Yes, 2003!

Don't believe how quickly things have changed? Watch this video on the birth of the internet:



And so, I am thinking, perhaps rambling as I gather my thoughts to come to some conclusion.

Today I listened to an early podcast from David Warlick. During a discussion with educators, David asked the question: "What will the classroom look like in the year 2015?" One response sent a "shudder up his spine" and chills up mine. The comment refered to a "media native." It made it clear to me that we are no longer dealing with students who know how to use technology, we are dealing with students who are creating the technology! The Digital Native is already dead, and like a phoenix from the ashes a "Media Native" has emerged. This is why it is vital to break the walls and empower studnts. They are the new creators and inventors. Our job as responsible adults should be to step back and facilitate the natural learning, collaboration and authentic assessment that is occuring before our eyes! Our responsibility is to teach responsibility. To teach students ethical habbits and critical analysis will give them the tools to change the world!

Embrace a Media Native today!

On a sidenote, I'd like to welcome you to a new project I am working on for leaders in education and technology. The project is called Digital Decompression! Every Friday evening, I will be hosting a Stickcam conference for all of us involved in educational technology to gather and discuss the weeks events using the new Beta technology available at Stickam.com. Please, do stop by at approximately 9:00 P.M. CDT on 11/14/08 and introduce yourself at Stickam.com. Look for the Debate Room under the Group Chat tab. Find the Digital Decompression room and come on in. You don't need an account to join the chat but will need to sign up for a free Stickam account if you would like to use your webcam or microphone. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Big Ideas for Education

No time to waste on this one. The Landmark Project has an interesting initiative happening as I type. They are conducting a microblog survey and plan to compile the final action statements in just 18 hours! The associated statements collected will be published, with a request that education bloggers and microbloggers share their insights about their favorite statements, tagging their blogs appropriately. Once the request has been made, a facility will be added that enables prioritization of the action statements in order of importance and sequence.

Make your opinion count by making a statement today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Geotagging Halloween

Normally, I wouldn't post something so inane on a site about education and technology but...

File this under: What will the think of next.  While looking for spooky music for Halloween I came across this link: Halloween Candy Code.  Basically, it's geotagging for candy.  While humorous in nature, it just shows how ingenious can be.  Next year I'm sure it will go more high tech.  Kids may have an elaborate Twitter network established and coded specific to their sweet tooth!  Gotta love it!  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

As I have been preparing for T+L in Seattle tomorrow. I have been thinking about a number of things including: The socio-economic causes of the digital divide, cognitive versus behavioral leaning, bridging the gap between genrations using todays Web 2.0 technologies and ways we can virtually break down classroom walls. My brain has been working so hard at the philosophy, I somehow lost sight of what is most important in 21st century learning process -- the views of the student.
Luckily, just in the nick of time a new found friend on Twitter and facebook posted the following podcast to facebook.
It is interesting to hear how today's students reflect on technology that is just a few years old and practically obsolete already as well as invision the classroom of tomorrow! I remember my first daisy wheel printer. What do you remember? What will we remember in ten years? Great, another question to muddle my brain over the next few days!


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Some Opportunities for Professional Development

As I begin to ramp up for the T+L conference at the end of the month, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about some exciting opportunities a little closer to home.


The first is the The Chicago International Children's Film Festival
I happened upon this completely by accident this morning while "sleep surfing" at 4:00 in the morning.


According to their website:

The CICFF is North America's largest and most celebrated film festival devoted to films for and by kids, and it's the only Academy®-qualifying children's film festival in the world! (That means our winners in the short film category can go on to compete for the Oscars®!


This year, "Cannes for Kids" features over 200 of the best films and videos for kids from 40 countries. The Festival welcomes over 26,000 Chicago area children, adults, and educators to hundreds of screenings. More than 100 filmmakers, media professionals & celebrities attend the Festival to lead interactive workshops with kids."


They offer packages for groups over 25 and some very interesting Professional Development Opportunities for parents and teachers alike. Perhaps the most intriguing thing is that it is "for and by kids." I have always believed that giving students ownership of the learning process ingrains the lesson being taught.




You don't even need to leave the comfort of your classroom or home for the second opportunity. It's the K12 Online Conference!


It actually start today October 13th, 2008! According to the website:
"The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is “Amplifying Possibilities”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations. More information about podcast channels and conference web feeds is available!"


I already missed the Pre-conference keynote, but luckily in the 21st century you don;t have to be anywhere anymore! I've posted it for your convenience below:

Pre-conference Keynote



I'm looking forward to the month ahead as it is going to be filled with so many thought provoking opportunities. I'm sure in the coming months this blog is going to be filled with thoughts and ideas, so please visit often!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is anyone really out there?

I'm beginning to ask this question. It's akin to the question does anyone hear you scream in Cyberspace? Viral videos have begun to be broadcast on network tv. There are televisions channel created by people. Current TV for one.
Other sites like UStream, Mogulus, Stickam allow users to broadcast their lives. But is anyone really out there? Are we using the technology purposefully or as I heard a board member for a school district in Alabama say today during a T+L presentation: are we just "playing with technology" Students today are using the network to sign up for facebook and myspace. But what are we doing as adults?
Sure we have facebook accounts and might have 100's of contacts there, but are we just "playing with technology" when we should be leverging its power.
I just sent a very public twitter message stating that I am Stickam right now willing to discuss the days events at T+L Seattle and absolutely no one is dropping in! It may be that a lot of people are still at the event or meeting with people in small groups with their own districts. But you would think that one person, just one, would be curious enough to pop in and see what the heck that tweet was all about!?
In such a social world, we are apparently not very social and that just leaves me screaming in Cyberspace where no one can hear me...Guess I'll try again later. Going to Pike's Market to pick up some souvineers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hacking the Debates

I realize this is a blog that is mainly about the philosophy of Technology and Education. But this is my blog and I can certainly stretch the boundaries once in a while. Right?
Anyway, I've been using Twitter for quite some time. And I can simply say it's neat to tweet! When sitting at a boring dinner party or event it can be a good way to break the monotony. I like watching the public feed and seeing what other people are doing. But until now, I haven't seen much true value to it. It hasn't struck me a true global medium. Unless you have hundreds of followers (I have 2 at the moment), you may as well be shouting into a black hole! Incidentilly, you an follow me on Twitter at JMGubbins.
I did preface that last statement with until now. You see, over the past few weeks, the Current TV channel has been broadcasting the debates in partnership with Twitter. During the debate they run a twitter feed along the bottom of the screen allowing anyone with access to a cellphone with a Twitter client or access to a computer to send their thoughts on the debate. I was my usual skeptical self when I first heard about this, so I watched the VP debate a few weeks back on Current and was impressed that the tweets (incidentally, a tweet is a posted Twitter comment) were coming from both sides of the aisle and that the majority of the comments held validity. I don't know if Current was filtering the comments or not but I didn't notice any vulgar language or true hate mongering.
At any rate, I now see Twitter as a valuable Social Networking tool, but maybe I'm a little biased since my comment was the last in the commercial Current is running for the 3rd and final debate (look for JMGubbins).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Technology and the 2 year old

Has it really been a few months since my latest post. Time really does fly. It's been a busy few months with school starting up again.

I was recently in a faculty meeting where someone mentioned they were investigating the effects of technology on education and whether there was a correlation to increased mastery of material when technology was incorporated into the curriculum. Of course, I certainly believe in that theory or I would not be in the field of education and technology. I will be interested in what the findings of this research project are but I wanted to share a personal story with you about the influence of technology on learning.

My son is now 2 years old and is really into being read books. However, neither my wife nor I have necessarily sat down and tried to teach him to identify letters or numbers. Colors and shapes yes, but we figured he was still too young to start pushing the literary skills. Now he does watch a great deal of TV (Blue's Clues and SuperWhy are among his favorite programs) and these shows of course are introducing numbers and letters. Now, his grandparents who live just outside Athens, Greece (hence the title of my blog) sent his older sister a toy laptop a few years back and it has been one of his favorite toy's to play with. One of the games on that laptop is a letter identification game. Additinally, we have not necessarily tried to teach our children any Greek since my daughter appeared to be having a late onset of speech due to the bilingual nature of her first year or so on earth. OK, there's the background -- here's the story.

I came home from work the other day and my wife called me saying "come in here you won't believe this!" At this point I'm thinking: OK, what did the kids break now?! I walked into the family room to find my wife's jaw practically on the ground. My daughter had brought something home from school that had been decorated with letters and there was my 2 year old son pointing to random letters and vocally identifying them in English and Greek!!! That's when my jaw hit the floor.

Now remember, the only way he had been introduced to letters was through the TV and this little Greek laptop toy. If technology hasn't already played a role in my child's brain development, I'm not sure what has!

Just food for thought.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tacit vs. Explicit Knowledge in the 21st Century

I have been reading an intriguing article published by the Canadian Journal of Learning and technology entitled The Framework of Knowledge Creation for Online Learning.

I have found it an interesting article namely because it discusses an interesting paradox between explicit and tacit knowledge and the role technology plays in the facilitation of the process.

My understanding is that explicit knowledge is the concrete fact that can be disseminatd by the instructor in the form of books, personal knowledge or any other form of factual material. This is the "old school" tradition. Here are the facts, learn them, pass the test and move on. It's this kind of education that has lead to centuries of students asking when am I ever going to use this in real life.

The idea of tacit knowledge is the absorption, internalization and application of this knowledge. This is where technology can play a major role. It can take simple facts and make them tangible exciting forces of learning.

What better place for this dichotomy to merge than the Blogosphere that is Web 2.0. By creating a repository for explicit knowledge via blogs, wikis and social online communities, teachers and students alike have the ability to crete tacit knowledge that can be applied to real life scenarios.

Let's apply this to a real life, albeit hypothetical, scenario. Let's say a classroom in Barbourville, Kentucky is studying the apartheid in South Africa. The teacher goes online and finds a lesson plan that coincides with the Jim Lehrer newshour at PBS TeacherSource (incidentally this appears to be an excellent source of lesson plans online -- maybe a topic for a future post).

Now by itself, this is an excellent source of explicit knowledge. There are plenty of opportunities to garner knowledge. This syllabi for this lesson suggests it should take two class periods and touches on the disciplinary standards of History, Geography, Civics and Government and Economics. It includes a Web Quest, additional reading materials, definitions and exercises. Alone this could facilitate tacit knowledge by creating emotions and getting students to think and interpolate the facts.

But why stop there? This is a question I ask a lot! What if the instructor went to the Intercultural E-mail Classroom Connections website and found a teacher in South Africa willing to use the same lesson plan with their students?

Now the instructors have an opportunity for collaborative tacit learning that students in both countries can benefit from. The possibilities here become endless because now international connections have been made and the topic truly becomes real. Depending on the levels of technology involved on "both sides of the pond", the teachers could host a town meeting using the video features of Skype and let students discuss their answers "face to face". Of course with minimal technology, the classrooms could collaborate on a Blog or e-mail questions to each other. As you can see, the possibilities can become limitless.

A teacher can provide an excellent service by providing explicit knowledge. It gives the student a chance to garner information. A 21st century teacher should take that knowledge and facilitate learning that will last a lifetime.

Incidentially, the links and ideas I have provided are extremely tangible. If anyone finds this information useful or is already doing similar projects, I'd love to hear about them at JGubbins207@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

ZamZar File Conversion

The other day I received an email from a colleague that had an attachment. An every day occurance indeed; until,I noticed the dreaded .docx extension. Docx is not some mysterious character from a science fiction movie. It is the standard extension for Office 2007. I was unable to open it because the computer I was sitting at did not have the correct version of Office.

Luckily, I was able to draw on previous experience and headed directly to ZamZar.com. This website allows you to convert files on the fly and have access to them for up to a week online or you can download them and keep them forever. And it doesn't just work for Office files. It allows you to convert all sorts of formats including video, audio, a variety of document types and images. Normally, this site is reserved for more philosophical thoughts on technology and education. Thus, I will not provide a full tutorial here. Besides there really isn't much to this extremely simple process.

In the coming days you will likely find a full explaination of how to use ZamZar.com on my more technical Xanga Blog, Dr_Disk.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

TechCrunch

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an exciting website I found recently: Techcrunch.com

This is not an education site; rather, it is a newsfeed that is tuned in to the future of the internet. To quote their site directly, they are a "weblog dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies. In addition to covering new companies, we profile existing companies that are making an impact (commercial and/or cultural) on the new web space."

O.K., so you may be asking, "what's so great about that?" The nice thing about this site is it's clean design and layout. You can read an article without having to dig through mounds of advertising. Also, their coverage of internet companies (particularly to those dedicated to the Web 2.0 phenominon) are in depth and yet concise. You could literally spend days browsing their Company Index. I feel like a shameless promoter at this point so I'll let you decide for yourself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Education 2.0

I've recently discovered a website that I hope will thrive and flurish. Edu20.org is a brilliant site and while the concept is not new (it is reminicent of Blackboard and Edline), it is FREE!

Edu20.org allows anyone to develop an online classroom for anytime anywhere learning.

In the example below you can see that immediately upon creating a class, the "teacher" is given multiple pages with which to work. Including resources, lessons, a calendar, a gradebook, a forum, a chat, a wiki, and the list just goes on.






In a future episode of Dr. Disk at Work, I will be setting up a "Classroom" that I will be integrating with Certification Central (one of my many projects). This wll be a guided tour through the entire process. Please check back to see when the episode will be scheduled.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

TeacherTube

By now (unless you've been on a deserted island without your laptop and mobile broadband card), you've heard of YouTube. The media uses it for news stories, bands are using it to promote themselves and students are using it for projects. YouTube is a wonderful resource to find video for just about any topic. But, because anyone anywhere in the world can post to YouTube, you have to know how to search through the "garbage" to find the treasures.

Let's use one of the most horrifying days in US history as an example and pretend we are a teacher about to discuss the tragedy with or students.

Performing a search on YouTube for 9/11. Pulls up the following Titles (along with 176,000 other "related" videos):
9/11 Coincidences (Part One)
Never before seen Video of WTC 9/11 attack
9/11 Budweiser Tribute
Fahrenheit 9/11 Trailer
Walmart Intercom: 9/11 Truth

While this is great, it certainly does not have much educational value. Additionally, there is no way to perform due research diligance to prove the sources validity. Also, some of the comments made about the vidoes contain harsh language and strong opinions. While this can certainly spark discussion, many teacher's would simply shy away from using the technology because of the added inconveniences.

So, what is our teacher to do in this situation? There is a terrific resource called TeacherTube.com. It is a resource for teachers and students to share video in a "safe" environment. Teachers can post and find videos here that are of pure educational value. Using our search of 9/11 on TeacherTube provides the following videos:

4th of July American History and 911
911
A Nation Under Attack
Hope in Time of Fear Part 1 of 3
September 11th 2001

While there are only 18 video in total on this topic, TeacherTube.com provides a good resource for quick access to educational content on the subject of your choosing.
Each video also provides a brief synopsis of the content. For example the sidebar for September 11th 2001 reads:

Tags // 911 wtc september 11 world trade centers twin towers
Channels // Career and Technology Education (CATE)
Added: 2008-03-04 by rpey120
Runtime: 03:42 Views: 1237 Comments: 0

The Channels tab provdes teachers with a quick link to their subject and grade level. It also is a great place to showcase your student videos without exposing their identities to the world! You can set up private groups and allow your students to post and see each other's work without fearing the random negative or vulgar comments that appear on YouTube.

One additional benefit is that you are able to download any video of your choosing and embed them into your website, blog or powerpoint presentations.



So in summary, TeacherTube.com is a growing video community for educators. Does it provide the glitz and glamour of YouTube? Not yet. Will you find the Mentos boys spewing pop all over some field to Beethoven's 5th? Probably not. But if you are looking for a place to gather ideas or brief videos to start a class discussion TeacherTube.com is worth a visit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Welcome to Zenodotus

Zenodotus was a Greek scholar of grammer. He was a literary critic and an authority on Homer. Zenodotus was also the first Librarian at Alexandria. I could not think of a more fitting Blog title for a journey into technology and education.


Over the life of this Blog, I plan to share revelations I have made along my personal journey through this amazing thing called life. Everyday is a new opportunity for growth and personal discovery.


I hope this site becomes a place you visit to learn about technologic innvovations that are finding their way into the classrooms around the world.


While, I am not a teacher. I do feel connected to the educational system. My parents were both educators. I myself am a credit shy of being certified as a K-9 teacher. But towards the end of my most recent educational journey I found myself becomming more and more of what I like to call an Edu Geek--a person who finds their passion in helping provide the tools necessary to educators trying to find their way in the 21st Century Classroom.


There is a great deal of discussion about the digital divide and one-to-one computing. Making sure that all students have access to equal technology is certainly vital to the future of our Global culture. Unfortunately, and this is just my humble opinion: "placing technology in the hands of children, does nothing, until the leader's in the classroom have some understanding of the power that it truly provides."


That is my goal for this blog. To help teachers and parents begin to understand how to use technology to enhance and expand the horizons of the lives they most significantly impact.

Please understand that these are just opinions. The wonderful thing about technology is that it affords us many opprtunites to accomplish a similar goal. Just because I may suggest something, don't take my word for it go out and discover your own path! Leave comments and suggestions and help this blog expand to be a resouce in your technical library!

Enjoy
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